Italian Language/complemento


Dear Maria,

Would you please help me with the following sentence:
“I suoi occhi neri brillavano di gioia.”

Can you please tell me if my following translation is correct:
“His black eyes sparkled with joy.”

I am wondering about the use of the comlemento -  “di gioia” .  Can you please tell me if this complemento - “di gioia” would be classified as a - “complemento di modo” because it indicates how something appears - his black eyes appear "with joy”.

Would you also please help me to understand why the preposition “di” is used to link the noun - “gioia” to the verb - “brillavano”.  Is this just a matter of custom?  Would it be wrong to also use the preposition “con” (that is also sometimes translated into English as “with”) and say – “brillavano con gioia”.

Thank you very, very much.  I really appreciate your understanding and patience with my many questions.  

Very Sincerely,


Dear Rich,

“I suoi occhi neri brillavano di gioia”  means exactly  “His black eyes sparkled with joy” or “Her black eyes sparkled with joy”, depending on whether the sentence refers to a male or female person.

As for  “di gioia”, it is  a “complemento di causa ” because it indicates the reason/cause why the eyes sparkled.

With regard to  the preposition “di” which  is used to link the noun - “gioia” to the verb - “brillavano”, it depends on the verb “brillare” which in this context must be followed by the preposition “di” , just to denote the reason/cause why the eyes sparkled.

Anyway, though  the best form is “brillare di gioia” with reference to the eyes, of course, you could also say “I suoi occhi neri brillavano per la  gioia”, whereas   it would be absolutely wrong to say:“I suoi occhi neri brillavano con gioia” as  a literal translation of the English sentence where the preposition “with” depends on the verb “sparkle” or “shine” as in “his face shone with happiness” meaning “Il suo viso brillò di contentezza” or less well  “"Il suo viso brillò per la contentezza”.

Hope this is clear enough.

All the best,


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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.


Over 25 years teaching experience.

I received my Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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